Some people think there is nothing worse than school fundraising, but they’re wrong. It’s when you have a school fundraiser and it flops. When no one buys a ticket. No one clicks on your link. When you’re left with 600 pieces of unsold crap and a ‘please explain’ from the Treasurer.
Save yourself the headache and follow these rules so you don’t stuff up your next fundraiser.
Think beyond school mums and dads, and plan a fundraiser that you can flog to the neighbours and local community. A wider appeal means a bigger market. The bigger the market the more money you will make. Besides, everyone is sick of having to buy back cakes and honey joys they spent the weekend baking. Sell them to a stranger instead.
The time is right
Planning your parent quiz night bang smack in the middle of a long weekend? A Family Camp Out on the day of the AFL Grand Final? Good luck with that. Get the timing right, and don’t clash with other major events (yes, for some reason watching men in short shorts is a major event). On the flipside why not run your chocolate fundraiser just before Easter or sell socks before Fathers’ Day. It’s all in the timing. Get it right and you’re on to a winner, muck it up and you have boxes of unsold stuff sitting in the storage shed for the next three years.
If your school has a history of crapshit involvement, don’t tempt the fates by holding a fundraiser that requires lots of volunteers, multiple meetings, equipment hire and a magic rabbit. Find one that can be done with little more than fifteen minutes of your time, a few mouse clicks and a half-finished bottle of Pinot. Work with what you’ve got, not what you wish you had.
Kids are your secret weapon
Have you noticed how people are much better at saying ‘no’ to other adults than they are to their own kids? The mums who avoid direct eye contact, or cross to the other side of the playground when they see you coming. Screw ‘em. Get the kids onside. Go to assembly and rally them up, tell them how this fundraiser will be the most fun ever. Bribe them with prizes for the families who buys/sell the most. Get the kids onside and make them go home to convince their parents – let them do the dirty work for you.
School is not Instagram
The quickest way to a fundraiser headache is trying to sell lots of expensive things with tiny little profit margins. Think twice before attempting a fundraiser just because it looks pretty and you saw it on Instagram. Do your math – how much profit is actually involved in each item? Will you actually have to work hard to sell them? Grab five random people at school and ask them if they’d buy this thing. If you have to convince people, do like Elsa and let it go. You are not the school influencer. Trust me, you won’t get any more likes.
Last minute Lucy
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that parents will leave ordering and purchasing tickets to the absolute last minute. And while they might not be doing it deliberately just to screw with your head, it is almost pathological. Keep your spending to last minute where possible, and only when you have reached minimum numbers. If your school is particularly heinous, skip any fundraiser that requires upfront payment or who has obscenely high ‘minimum’ numbers. There’s no point paying for everyone else’s tardiness with your own mental health.
Before you commit to some exciting new fundraiser, go find the crusty ex-President who’s been hiding the past few years, hoping everyone forgets who she is. Ask what worked and what failed in the past. Is this school the type who loves their kid’s artwork on mugs and tea-towels or are they more likely to go in for a raffle for a carton of wine. Do the parents love a good social night or are they more likely to toss cash at you so they can stay home, watch Netflix and choose something from a catalogue. This doesn’t mean you can’t try new things, but it’s good to know what’s happened in the past, especially the flops that no one likes talking about.
What school fundraising projects have worked in your school and which ones have dismally flopped? Tell us in the comments below.